Formula 1

Fernando Alonso could leave Ferrari, claims Mario Andretti

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Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso could leave Ferrari according to the 1978 Formula One champion Mario Andretti.

2014 looks set to be yet another season where Ferrari cannot provide Alonso with a car which can compete competitively with the front-runners. And therefore, Andretti, a former Ferrari driver, feels the Spaniard must consider his future.

He told "I wouldn't be surprised, quite honestly (if he was looking elsewhere).
He's still at the top of his game and he cannot afford to lose too many seasons. So I'm sure if the proper opportunity comes up he'll consider it."

The 74-year-old referred to Lewis Hamilton's decision to switch teams from McLaren, who he grew up with, to Mercedes, a gamble which many questioned but has been justified in the end.

"When Lewis [Hamilton] made the decision to go to Mercedes, lots of people were saying, 'What the hell is he thinking?' But look at what has happened. You never know what the next opportunity could be at the very top. And once [Alonso] becomes free of the contract [with Ferrari] I'm sure he'll get plenty of calls to consider."

Ferrari's lack of presence at the front of the grid is not what Formula One is used to.

“You can tell that everyone is frustrated, beginning with Luca di Montezemolo. I think the drivers are using every bit of restraint not to express themselves.”

Ferrari’s frustration has grown so much so that Stefano Domenicali took the decision upon himself to leave his post as team principal of Ferrari after six years in the position. Change at Ferrari was inevitable and they will now look to move in a new direction and adopt a fresh approach.

Ferrari have not won the drivers' championship since Kimi Raikkonen, who has now returned to the team, did it back in the 2007 season. And it is highly unlikely that Alonso (or Kimi) will be able to end the six-year drought in this campaign, where Ferrari's opening three races have been unacceptable.

Alonso has two world championships to his name from his time with Renault but the ability of the driver deserves to have the chance of adding to those in the remaining years of his Formula One career.

The 32-year-old has drawn every inch of performance out of the Ferrari in the four full seasons he has completed with the team. He has somehow managed to finish second in the individual standings in three out of the last four years, driving a car which should not be able to achieve that level.

Alonso to some extent is a victim of the Red Bull dominance of recent years, with Sebastian Vettel taking control of the series in his far superior, Adrian Newey-designed car. To push him as close as he has on occasions is a credit to the man.

Of course it would not be a decision to take lightly, leaving the most successful Formula One team of all-time. A team where he is adored by the supporters and where he feels at home.

But if Ferrari cannot give Alonso the tools required to win more races and then the drivers' title, as Andretti says, he will certainly be taking other options into account in order to win enough championships to prove, what many believe, that he is the best driver on the grid.

Alonso heads to China this weekend, with newly-appointed Marco Mattiacci taking Domenicali’s role as team boss. Fernando took the race win at this circuit last year but a repeat of that would have to take something extraordinary. Alonso arrives fourth in the driver standings on 26-points.

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